Red Flags:

  • You meet someone online and after just a few contacts or a short time, they profess their love or strong feelings for you.
  • They ask you to start communicating by text or personal email, away from the original site you met on.
  • Their profile you read on the site might not match everything they tell you. 
    • Run a Google search of the name, address, or any additional contact information the individual has posted to his or her profile.
  • After gaining your trust, they start telling you stories of bad luck or medical illnesses.
  • They indirectly or directly ask for money, gift cards, or funds to pay credit cards. Has an online love interest asked you for money?
  • Their messages are poorly written, inconsistent, or sometimes vague.
  • They offer various excuses for why they can’t show you more photos of themselves. Learn how to reverse image search to identify an individual.
  • They delay meeting in person or talking with you on a video chat.
  • When you do agree to meet, they cancel or postpone due to some emergency.
  • Download this Red Hearts Red Flags Infographic for a printable version of these warning signs.
  • Find more red flags from our partner ITRC

Some Immediate Action Steps to Take

Reach out to a friend, family member or counselor who can help you with the emotional difficulties. Find resources from the OVC Directory of Crime Victim Services

Report

Reporting cybercrime incidents to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is very important!  The more national reporting data that is collected, the better the chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease online crime. Although the FBI does not resolve individual complaints directly, they will make your report available to local, state and other law enforcement partners. The FAQs about reporting can be found here. Please read the FBI/IC3 privacy policy here. (If you believe that you’ve received a phishing email, please forward the email directly to reportphishing@apwg.org.)

Recover

These resources have been gathered, selected and vetted to help simplify the process of recovering after a cybercrime incident has taken place. You may need to contact organizations outside Fraudsupport.org. Results will vary depending on your circumstances.

Reinforce

Once you have notified the appropriate organizations and you are on the road to recovery, it is time to reinforce your cybersecurity, using these resources and tools.

Report the Scam to the Dating / Social Networking Site

Contact your banking institution or the money service company you may have used and report the fraud.

Contact Credit Reporting Agencies to Monitor Your Accounts

Implement Preventive Measures

  • Run a Google search of the name, address, or any additional contact information the individual has posted to his or her profile.
  • Run any images/pictures the individual posted through a reverse-image search engine, such as Google Images or TinEye.
  • If you have any doubts or suspicions about an individual, consider using an online background search service (e.g., BeenVerified).
  • Download our Six Steps to Better Security PDF.

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